I propose to take Questions Nos. 119 and 120 together.
Minimum standards for rental accommodation are prescribed in the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) Regulations 2008, made under section 18 of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1992. These Regulations were further amended by the Housing (Standards for Rented Houses) (Amendment) Regulations 2009 which expanded the definition of "a proper state of structural repair" to allow for all aspects of the internal and external appearance of a dwelling to be taken into account for the purposes of the Regulations.
All landlords have a legal obligation to ensure that their rented properties comply with these Regulations. Responsibility for enforcing the Regulations rests with the relevant local authority, supported by a dedicated stream of funding allocated by my Department.
It is a matter for each individual local authority to decide the specific details of its enforcement strategy and inspection arrangements. However, in discharging their responsibilities in relation to the rental sector, authorities have been asked to have regard to the Good Practice Guidelines for Local Authorities on Standards in the Private Rented Sector: Strategic Planning, Effective Enforcement published by the Centre for Housing Research in November 2007, which make a range of recommendations on relevant issues, including targeting inspection activities.
Following the enactment of the Housing (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009, local authorities have a strengthened, updated legislative and regulatory framework available to them which provides for the issuing of Improvement Notices and Prohibition Notices where landlords are in breach of their obligations under the regulations, and fines for continuing non-compliance with the Regulations have also been significantly increased.